Key contests in the south

The two old rivals — Arjun Modhwadia of the Congress and Babu Bokhiria of the BJP — filed their nomination papers for the Porbandar constituency on Saturday within a gap of few minutes setting the stage for one of the most fiercest and interesting battles of this Assembly elections.

And the first day itself made it clear how close and bitter the contest will likely be.

Before filing his nomination papers, Modhwadia led a 5,000-strong crowd at Khijdi Chowk area of the town. He was flanked by Congress leaders like Shaktisinh Gohil, retired IPS officer now Congressman, V V Rabari, V H Kanara and local Kharwa leader Iku Gagan Shial among others.

To rival it, Bokhiria started a rally from Shitala Chowk at the same time, crisscrossing the city and passing right in front of the public meeting by Modhwadia. At this point, the BJP workers shouted anti-Congress slogans and they were "answered" in equal intensity by Congress supporters.

The contest between the two leaders goes back to 1998 when they first fought the electoral battle against each other. In 1998, Modhwadia lost badly to Bokhiria. However, Modhwadia had his revenge in 2002 when he defeated Bokhiria.

Since 2002, Modhwadia is being elected from the constituency and this time the two have come again against each other. The rivalry has also a share of blood stains in the form of murder of a strong Modhwadia supporter, Mulu Modhwadia, allegedly by Porbandar-based gangster and cousin of Bokhiria, Bhima Dula, in 2003. Modhwadia had then sat on a hunger strike then demanding the arrest of the accused, including Bokhiria.

Bokhiria, who once held the portfolio of Irrigation Minister, has also been facing allegations of involvement in a 54-crore mining scam in Saurashtra. Bokhiria beat Rambhai Mokaria and Rajshi Parmar — who also vied to contest from the seat. Both Mokaria and Parmar accompanied Bokhiria today.

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